Standard or Itemized Deductions

Standard or Itemized Deductions

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 increased the standard deduction to $24,000 for married couples.  There will be some instances that homeowners may be better off taking the standard deduction than itemizing their deductions.  In the past, homeowners would most likely be better off itemizing but the $10,000 limit of state and local taxes (SALT) adds one more issue to consider.

Let’s look at a hypothetical homeowner to see how a strategy that has been around for years could benefit them now even though they haven’t used it in the past.  The strategy is called bunching; by timing the payments in a tax year so that they can be combined to make a larger deduction.

Let’s say that the married couple filing jointly has a $285,000 mortgage at 5% for 30 years that has about $14,000 in interest being paid.  The property taxes are $6,000 and they have $4,000 a year in charitable contributions for a total of $24,000 of allowable itemized deductions on Schedule A.

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Since that deduction amount is the same as the Standard Deduction, there is no monetary advantage one way or the other.  However, if the taxpayers were to pay their interest because they must make timely house payments but only pay $2,000 of the 2018 property taxes in December of 2018 and the balance of the $4,000 in January, they transfer part of the deduction into 2019.

Additionally, if they make their intended charitable contribution for 2018 in January of 2019, it makes that deductible on the 2019 return.

Since the total deductible amounts paid out in 2018 was $16,000, the taxpayers would have an $8,000 benefit that year from taking the Standard Deduction.

Assuming they made the same $4,000 charitable contribution in 2019 during the year and paid the house payment and property taxes on time, their total deductions for 2019 would be $32,000 which is $8,000 more than the Standard Deduction.

In this example, the taxpayers in 2018 and 2019, would benefit a total of $16,000 in tax deductions by bunching and electing to take the standard deduction one year and itemizing the next.

This is only an example but if your situation is similar, it might benefit you to consider an alternative when to take the standard deduction and when to itemize.  This is a conversation you need to have with your tax professional to see if it would work for you.

How to Have a Healthier Kitchen

How to Have a Healthier Kitchen

By John Voket
Many of us make lofty self-improvement plans in the new year. Some are attainable, and others, not. If your goal is to make healthier choices, you may want to turn first to your kitchen.

Here are four ideas to consider incorporating into your kitchen this New Year:

– Even before healthy ingredients, Kelley Herring at healinggourmet.com says pick the right gadgets to make healthy eating easier. Take the simple garlic press ($20 – $50). Herring says this anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal superfood helps fight colds, infections, and is powerfully protective against cancer and other diseases. So skip peeling, chopping and dicing and press yourself a potent spoonful in seconds. Use your press for a fresh dose of healing ginger or turmeric, too.

– Recipegeek.com contributor Amanda Walsh says keep all those healthy fruits and veggies you’re buying as fresh for as long as possible. Since ethylene gas develops when you keep fresh fruits and veggies in your fridge, it can hasten spoilage. Walsh uses something called Bluapple (2 pack: $15 / 1 year refills: $12). Just nestle a Bluapple inside your fruit/veggie crispers to eliminate ethylene gas for three months – then simply refill.

– When it comes to healthy appliances, countless chefs and health food writers swear by their Instant Pot ($80 – $200+). Katie Wells at wellnessmama.com says this Canadian invention delivers the best of a slow cooker and pressure cooker all in one countertop package. An Instant Pot can actually create space in your kitchen by replacing other appliances – because it handles pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice cooking, steaming, and warming.

– Now there’s room for a new steam oven. December’s PC Magazine selected this healthy appliance as a ‘must have’ for 2019. Over at digitaltrends.com, Dan Evon says while steam ovens can’t cook all the same meals as a traditional oven, they are extremely advantageous for reheating leftover foods through reliable steaming, baking, or broiling. He says cooking with steam also retains vitamins and minerals in vegetables, uses less fats or oils for proteins, and is great for making grains, rice, breads, and custards that require a ‘water bath’ (Budget $350 – $600).